Skip To Content

Coherent Corp. Gets a New CEO

James Anderson portrait

New Coherent CEO James R. Anderson. [Image: Coherent]

On 3 June, the US-based laser and optical-materials firm Coherent Corp. announced that it had named a new CEO, James R. Anderson, to replace outgoing leader Vincent D. “Chuck” Mattera, Jr., who announced his retirement in February. Wall Street appeared pleased by the news, which spurred a 23% one-session jump in Coherent’s stock price, from a closing price of US$57.06 per share on Friday, 31 May, to US$70.17 on Monday, 3 June.

Semiconductor roots

In what may be an interesting sign of the present and perceived future of the business, Coherent’s new CEO is a Silicon Valley figure with deep roots in the semiconductor industry. The 51-year-old Anderson’s most recent gig was as the chief executive of Lattice Semiconductor, a US firm that specializes in the design and manufacture of low-power field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for the electronics industry. Before that, he had held positions at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Intel, Broadcom and LSI Corp.

At Lattice, Anderson reportedly pushed the company to focus on key markets including AI, 5G, data centers and robotics, and to leverage its key leadership position in low-power FGPAs. In the five years after he took the reins at Lattice in 2018, the company’s revenues grew at a compound annual rate of 14%.

Investors offered their own vindication of Anderson’s tenure in their response to the news that he had left Lattice to join Coherent. Even as Coherent stock logged a record one-day price increase on 3 June, Lattice shares fell some 15.5% on the same day, erasing nearly US$1.6 billion from the latter firm’s market cap.

Targeting AI and industrial market growth

In a press release announcing his new position, Anderson professed to be “deeply honored” to join Coherent, a company he has “long admired.”

“With cutting-edge innovation, an industry-leading platform, and an intense focus on the customer, Coherent is exceptionally well positioned to build on its existing momentum and deliver enhanced profitable growth over the long term,” Anderson said. “I look forward to joining the leadership team and board at this pivotal moment in the company’s history as we work together to realize Coherent’s enormous potential and drive value for all stakeholders.”

In the same release, the company’s board chair, Enrico DiGirolamo, gave a nod to some of the sources of that potential, noting the firm’s intention to “capitalize on the strong market demand we see across our AI-related datacom portfolio and improving industrial market, while leveraging our diversification strategy that continues to serve us well.”

Mattera’s valedictory

DiGirolamo also expressed compliments and thanks to Mattera, whom he credited with “conceptualizing and directing the acquisition and business development strategy that made Coherent the multi-billion-dollar global entity it is today.”

Chuck Mattera portrait

Outgoing Coherent CEO Vincent D. “Chuck” Mattera. [Image: Coherent]

For his part, Mattera—who joined Coherent’s precursor company, II–VI Inc., some two decades ago, and has served as CEO since 2016—offered a longer-term perspective on the firm’s history in a farewell blog post. During his tenure as CEO, Mattera oversaw II–VI’s dramatic expansion through a variety of acquisitions, including the purchase of the optical-communications company Finisar Corp. in 2019 and the laser maker Coherent in 2022, followed up by the rebranding of the combined company under the Coherent name.

In his blog post, Mattera noted that II–VI began life as “a startup underwritten by a US$125,000 initial investment.” Today, its successor company, Coherent, is one of the world’s largest photonics companies, with fiscal 2023 revenues of US$5.2 billion. Mattera also observed that the firm’s share price has expanded “nearly 1,000 percent” in the past two decades.

Mattera wrote that he was “profoundly grateful to my Coherent family.” And he ended his valedictory on a philosophical note.

“If I can leave you with the most important thing I’ve learned these past 20 years, it’s this: Whatever it takes, your work here will give far more back to you—and to the world.”

Publish Date: 07 June 2024

Add a Comment